From Mech Lab to Maxfield Hall

The renovated 1912 building is the new home of the Department of Statistics.

By Patrick Kurp

The transformation of the Mechanical Laboratory, one of the first buildings constructed on the Rice campus, into Maxfield Hall is complete.

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Mechanical Laboratory
Photo by Jeff Fitlow

The interior has been reconfigured to include two new classrooms, faculty and staff offices, a medium-sized conference room and huddle rooms. Two elevators with access to the basement and first and second floors have been added. The building’s exterior remains largely unchanged except for the addition of two stair enclosures on the north side and a wheelchair-accessible entrance on the south side.

All windows have been refurbished and the building’s HVAC and electrical systems have been modernized. In the large classroom on the second floor, the dropped ceiling has been removed and the original vaulted ceiling restored. The basement is fully renovated.

Robert and Katherine Maxfield and the Maxfield Foundation committed $5 million to the renovation. Robert Maxfield earned his B.A. and B.S. in electrical engineering from Rice in 1963 and 1964, respectively. He and three other Rice graduates — Gene Richeson ’62, Ken Oshman ’62 and Walter Loewenstern ’58 — co-founded ROLM Corp.

“By designating a primary building in the Engineering Quad as home to our Department of Statistics, we are sending a strong message to the community that not only does statistics belong in the School of Engineering, but it is central to the mission of our school,” said Luay Nakhleh, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering.